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How often do you need to train specific motor abilities?

507850869By Jeremy S. Hoy, MS, CSCS, PES, TPI1

Ok, so what am I talking about?

Specific motor abilities, such as maximum strength and maximum speed just to name a few.

Knowing exactly how often to address these motor abilities and how this relates to in-season demands and volume of training can make a world of difference with optimizing performance in your team’s sport (which is THE goal!).

Over the span of my 15 years successfully training athletes, I have repeatedly expressed the importance of following a well-planned, progressive, evidence based, scientifically sound performance enhancement program. I have also expressed the importance of following the program on an annual basis. That means that training must be continued during the competitive season, in the off-season, and during the pre-season.

While all of that is important, in this article, I would like to focus on the residual effects of sports performance training. In a moment, you will see why this is important and how it ties into a well-planned annual training program.

Residual Training Effects: Defined

First, let’s define residual training effects. According to Vladimir Issurin in his book Block Periodization: Breakthrough in Sport Training residual training effect is “…the duration of the positive effect of the given training after its cessation and how fast you will lose the obtained ability level when you stop training it.” (p. 24, 2008) In other words, if you are specifically training for maximum strength, the residual training effect is how long you will maintain that level of strength after you stop training specifically for maximum strength. This is very important for certain methods of program design.

Also in his book, Vladimir Issurin drafted a table that listed the duration (in days) of residual training effects for different motor abilities. I would like to share them with you.

*Aerobic Endurance has a residual duration of 30± days.

 

*Maximum Strength has a residual duration of 30±5 days.

 

*Anaerobic Glycolytic Endurance has a residual duration of 18±4 days.

 

*Strength Endurance has a residual duration of 15±5 days.

 

*Maximum Speed (alactic) has a residual duration of 5±3 days.

 

*(Taken from Table 1.6, page 25, Block Periodization: Breakthrough in Sport Training 2008, Vladimir B. Issurin)

Why is this important?

There are many reasons, especially for the performance scientist when he/she is designing effective programs for his/her athletes. To simply illustrate one reason, take, for example, an athlete who has been focusing on maximum speed for the last 2 weeks. How long can she go without addressing this motor ability again before beginning to lose the desired training effect? The answer is anywhere from 2 to 8 days.

This is also important because training specific motor abilities can now be consecutively planned for maximum output at specific events/competitions. An athlete can stop training for max speed and still reap the benefits from the training for an additional 2 to 8 days.

The benefits of understanding residual training effects are endless. Planning an annualized, periodized program must take these residual effects into account to help maximize the athlete’s specific motor abilities for peak performance.

For details about how to best use residual training effects to maximize your programming, please contact us!

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Improve Strike-Force to Improve Specific Game Speed

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By Jeremy S. Hoy, MS, CSCS, PES, USAW

While there are a plethora of exercises and drills that can be used for speed enhancement, most coaches tend to focus specifically on training an athlete’s running stride length, stride frequency, or running mechanics.

Stride length is the distance an athlete travels between two foot contacts with the ground (ie. Left foot contacts the ground when running then the right foot contacts the ground 6 feet later, giving you a stride length of 6 feet).

Stride frequency is the number of foot contacts in a given time or distance.

Running mechanics typically refer to the specific running techniques of athletes at full speed.  Some of the techniques include arm mechanics, posture, breathing, and leg turnover.

Game speed is the most commonly used type of speed in game situations: short bursts of explosive power and strong, quick movements, with frequent changes in direction.

Training for Full-Speed Running

Stride length, stride frequency, and running mechanics are designed to address full-speed running (aka top-end speed), which occurs after an athlete has finished accelerating.  In a 40 yard dash, full-speed running typically occurs somewhere after 20 yards and continues through 40 yards.  Despite the fact that specific training for these elements occurs AFTER the first 20 yards, most coaches still tend to focus on these as their primary game speed training areas.

Training for Short-Quick Bursts of Speed

The first 20 yards of the 40 yard dash is specific to acceleration.  Most expert coaches would agree that acceleration is one of the most important training elements because it requires training for power—the combination of speed and strength that gives an athlete that ‘1st step quickness’ and helps an athlete ‘pull away’ from his/her opponent in the first few steps of movement.  Since most sports require short bursts of powerful game speed followed by quick deceleration, then re-acceleration as the athlete changes direction, specific programming designed for acceleration is paramount to an athlete’s success.

While many training camps and speed training companies promote the latest bells and whistles for speed training, the truth is that most acceleration training is accomplished through effectively designed weight-room training programs, accompanied by specific training protocols for minimizing ground-contact time during powerful movements (pliometric training methods).

Creating as much force as possible in as little time as possible is the goal of power or explosive training (used in pliometric training methods).  In running, this explosive training is designed for increases in strike-force output—each time the foot contacts the ground, it is the goal to utilize the reactive forces (from the contact) in addition to the forces that are actively generated to produce even greater forces in as little time as possible.  Simply put, the athlete is training to generate more force per foot contact, rapidly as possible.  This training for strike-force output will directly affect the athletes stride frequency and stride length.  Training for acceleration saves not only improves that athlete’s 1st step quickness, and quicker short bursts, but also helps with increasing full-speed.  And, acceleration training only requires 10-20 yards of space and a well-equipped weight training facility.

Strike-Force Output Training for Game Speed

Training for acceleration, or strike-force output, is the key to improving an athlete’s game speed.  It helps an athlete beat his/her opponent with a quicker 1st step, and gives the athlete the power to continue to ‘pull away’ from the competition.

Maintain Power Through-out the Game

Lastly, it is also important that the athlete’s training program addresses the need to be able to maintain maximal power output throughout the entire competitive event.  Athletes that are only explosive for the first part of the game will soon be surpassed by athletes or teams that can maintain this power for the duration of the game.  This specific type of training is power endurance.  Although there are many ways to train specifically for power endurance relative to a given sport, one simple way to address this is to ‘train the time frame’ of the sport.  What this means is that if an athlete’s specific position for his/her sport requires 30 bursts of sprinting and each one lasts 10 seconds, then the athlete must be able to produce 30 bursts of all-out effort for 10 second intervals.  Rest intervals (rest between sprints) can also be specific to the rest found in the sport.  Start with longer rest intervals and shorten them as the athlete becomes better conditioned to the sprints.  For sports with variable rest intervals in sport, vary the rest in the training.  It is best to for the athlete to be training to maximize acceleration and power endurance on an annual basis, with specific programming modifications during the pre-season and in-season periods.

For more specific information regarding speed training, acceleration, power-endurance, or to see how Finish First Sports Performance addresses these components, please CONTACT US, call 866-468-2231, or stop by the Robinson or Harmarville training facility locations.

5 Tips for Improving Your Game Speed

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(Image from ign.com)

By Jeremy S. Hoy, MS, CSCS, PES, USAW

While there are many ways to improve your game speed, depending on what specific areas you need improvement, there a few ways to gain an advantage through your training.  Here are 5 tips for improving your game speed.

1. Train the posterior chain

The posterior chain is another way of saying the “backside” of the body (kinetic chain).  More specifically, it is the muscle groups on our backside pertaining to the legs and hips and lumbo-thoracic region that make us go forward. This includes the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and the musculature up and down our spine (our back, traps, rear deltoids, erector spinae, etc.).  It also includes smaller stabilizers.  Some of the best ways to train the posterior chain includes deadlifts and deadlift variations (Romanian deadlifts or RDLs), back squats and squat variations (box squats), glute/ham raises, lunges, good mornings, and whole slew of other exercises. Additionally, sleds, tires and other training apparatus can be pulled or pushed to work the posterior chain.  If the load is minimal (2.5%-10% of bodyweight), these training apparatus can be used explosively to help improve ground force development which will help you get more power or push out of each foot contact.

2. Learn how to stop

There has been an increasing awareness of the importance of training deceleration and learning how to properly stop not only for its impact on reducing injury risk, but for the fact that athletes that can stop correctly, in a shorter amount of time, can then change direction and reaccelerate while other athletes are still trying to stop. Research has shown that many knee and ankle injuries occur as a result of improper deceleration or stopping techniques so addressing this is crucial. Additionally, it is highly recommended that you also learn how to land properly (safe, effective and efficient) before participating in any advanced jumping sequences.  Let’s face it…most sports involve starting and stopping and changing direction frequently at high speeds—so learning how to stop will help better prepare you to change direction at higher speeds.

3. Train for power

Power training, such as doing explosive movements with medicine balls (releasing the medballs), performing Olympic lifts or variations (more advanced—make sure you have someone qualified teaching you), using plyometric exercises (depth jumps, hurdles, boxes, broad jumps, jump rope, line hops, etc.), overspeed training, using advanced training techniques, or using other specific training apparatus, can help you create greater force more rapidly each time your foot touches the ground. This, in turn, would help propel you faster in your direction of choice.  This can help improve your stride length and frequency, depending on how you train specifically. Either way, the bottom line here is that power can be trained in the weight room, which means that speed can be improved in the weight room, too.

4. Get stronger

Sticking with the premise that speed can be trained in the weight room, strength is a key component of producing more power (greater force more rapidly) which you now know will help improve your game speed.  Get stronger and train for power and you will notice improvements.

5. Learn how to run

Running mechanics are important, especially the fluidity of movement while running.  Get a coach to teach you the proper mechanics of starting, accelerating, achieving full speed, decelerating, and stopping.  The more you can learn and the better you can run mechanically, the more efficient you will be which means you will waste less energy while running and you will also reduce your risk of getting injured.  Find a coach that is capable of adjusting the mechanics to your skill level and power/speed levels.  What this means is that while you may already be fast, the techniques of Usain Bolt may not be suited for you just yet, and adjustments will need to be made accordingly.

At Finish First Sports Performance, we have certified experience coaches helping athletes improve speed inside and outside of the weight room.  We offer customized training programs for athletes of all levels, plus speed and power training camps at our new location in Harmarville (inside PISA).  For more information about how our services could help you, or to schedule one of our speed and power camps, please contact us.

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